The Lectionary Cycle (the readings we hear at Mass) of the Liturgical Year offers us many ups and downs. We rejoice at Christmas with the birth of our Savior, we mourn when John the Baptist is killed, and we experience a number of emotions in between as our year continues. However, no scripture passages offer such a stark contrast of emotions as those we hear on Palm Sunday. As we process into Mass, we hear the story of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem where he is met with cries of joy and shouts of praise. We are rejoicing in his triumphant entrance as our Lord and King. Our feelings of joy continue as we sit in our pews for the first and second readings, likely weaving crosses or other shapes out of the palms we received for the procession. Then comes our Gospel reading. The Gospel for Palm Sunday is always an interactive experience of the Passion of Jesus. Just as we experienced Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem by processing into Mass with our own palm branches, so too do we participate in the Passion by reading it aloud as a congregation. The joy of Palm Sunday quickly turns and we experience the pain and sadness of the Passion as we shout phrases like, “Crucify him!” during the reading.
At the center of it all, both the joy of the procession and the sorrow of the Passion, is Jesus Christ. As we continue through Holy Week we reflect on the Passion of Jesus, but we also learn from him. If we are truly to be his disciples, Jesus invites us to walk in his footsteps, to share in his sufferings, to imitate his attitudes--unconditional love and forgiveness--, to empty ourselves, and to live in service of others. Essentially, Palm Sunday is the great call for us to draw deeper into the mystery of the Paschal Mystery so that we might love others as Jesus loves us. It is not a call to a life of pain and misery, but rather an invitation to the peace and happiness that Christ offers us through the love of his sacrifice.
“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” - William Penn
Peace & Prayers,